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Déodorant : les dangers à connaitre

Do You Use Deodorant? These Are the Dangers to Be Aware Of.

Deodorants are now an integral part of the hygiene products found in most bathrooms. They come in a variety of forms, from solid sticks to roll-ons, sprays and cream deodorants. Are antiperspirants bad for health and environment? The compositions are varied, so it's essential to pay close attention to the list of ingredients and actives when choosing your deodorant or antiperspirant.

Bad Ingredients in Deodorant to Be Avoided.

Recently, classic deodorants have been the subject of controversy due to certain ingredients bad ingredients:

  • Parabens:

    Some deodorants contain parabens for their antimicrobial properties. However, these compounds are recognized endocrine disruptors (= they upset the hormonal balance). So avoid choosing a deodorant containing, for example, Butylparaben or Propylparaben on its INCI list. 

    Note that manufacturers have replaced these preservatives with other ingredients such as MCIT (methylchloroisothiazolinone) or MIT (methylisothiazolinone). However, repeated exposure to the same substances can lead to skin sensitivities to these compounds.

  • Triclosan:

    This ingredient acts as an antimicrobial agent, preservative, and deodorant. Nevertheless, it is an endocrine disruptor as well as a potential skin and eye irritant. It is also suspected of increasing the risk of breast cancer. Its concentration is now regulated in deodorants (besides in spray form): it must not exceed 0.3%.

  • Talcum powder:

    This mineral powder is renowned for its ability to absorb moisture and excess perspiration. However, talc is now widely controversial. In 2012, ANSES (French Food Safety Agency) concluded that it was not possible to exclude the presence of asbestos fibers in certain talc deposits. In addition, studies have demonstrated adverse effects on the respiratory system following talc inhalation.

  • Alcohol:

    Ethanol is often added to conventional deodorants for its antiseptic properties and to reduce drying time. However, this compound is very drying and can cause irritation, redness, and tingling of the underarms.

Note: The everyday language does use “deodorant” as a term more commonly than “antiperspirant”. It's sometimes referred to as aluminum-salt deodorant when in fact it's antiperspirant. Aluminum salts can be found on INCI lists under the following names: Aluminum Chloryde, Aluminum Chlorohydrate, Aluminum Chlorydrex, Aluminum Sesquichlorohydrate, Aluminum Zirconium. Several studies have correlated the presence of aluminum salts in breast cells with the development of malignant tumors, and hence breast cancer. Even though the CSSC (European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety) issued a report in 2019 attesting to the very low cutaneous absorption (of the order of 0.00052%) of aluminum salts, even on shaved or depilated skin, as a precautionary principle, it remains preferable to catalogize them as “bad ingredients in deodorant” and ban them from your daily hygiene products.

Are Deodorants or Antiperspirants Bad for the Environment?

The use of deodorant or antiperspirant in aerosol cans used to be bad for the environment, but thanks to international measures, they are now ozone-friendly.

The story goes back to the early 1980s. Studies revealed that numerous types of aerosol were releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were responsible for thinning the ozone layer. CFCs were in fact propellants used since the Second World War because of their interesting properties: non-flammable, odorless and stable. In cosmetics, they were found particularly in deodorants and hairsprays. However, these gases release chlorine and bromine atoms which rise into the stratosphere to react with ozone, destroying it.

The solution was radical and swift: in 1987, with the Montreal Protocol, world leaders agreed to phase out CFCs. Manufacturers then proposed replacement solutions to be incorporated into aerosol cans.

Thanks to this global action, the hole in the ozone layer began to close up considerably in the 2000s. According to specialists' predictions, the upper ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere could be fully restored by 2030, while the hole over Antarctica should disappear by the 2060s.

Sources :

  • KREWSKI D. & al. Systematic review of potential health risks posed by pharmaceutical, occupational and consumer exposures to metallic and nanoscale aluminum, aluminum oxides, aluminum hydroxide and its soluble salts. Critical Reviews in Toxicology (2014).

  • SAPPINO A. P. & al. Aluminium chloride promotes tumorigenesis and metastasis in normal murine mammary gland epithelial cells. International Journal of Cancer (2016).

  • Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety : SCCS/1613/19 (2019).

  • Evaluation du risque lié à l’utilisation de l’aluminium dans les produits cosmétiques - Point d’information - ANSM : Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé.

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